The World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with the Kenyan government Saturday launched the Health Emergency Hub to enhance response to health emergencies in Africa.

A statement from the WHO released in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital said the hub will lay the foundation for a robust response to health emergencies including disease outbreaks unfolding in the continent.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Director-General of WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe, were among high profile dignitaries who attended ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a hub to handle Africa’s health emergencies that took place in Nairobi.

“The Hub will improve the capacity of African countries to prepare, detect and respond to health emergencies, support resilient health systems and strengthen the regional and global health architecture,” said Tedros.

Statistics from WHO says that the African region experiences over 100 health emergencies annually, more than any other region in the world while the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the continent’s lethargic emergency preparedness.

Less than 10 per cent of African countries have the workforce required to prepare, detect and respond to public health risks, says WHO adding that the new hub will help train 3000 elite emergency responders across the continent.

The broader aim of the hub is to ensure each country in Africa has at least one integrated team of emergency experts who can be deployed within 24 hours of a national health crisis, says the WHO.

The Kenyan government will allocate 12.14 hectares of land besides contributing 31 million US dollars towards setting up the health emergency hub and construction of office space to host 120 WHO staff.

The emergency hub will be maintaining stockpiles of medical and logistics supplies, and station WHO staff to ensure quick deployment to health emergency hotspots in the continent.

In addition, the hub will be central to the implementation of WHO Africa’s flagship initiative for health security that aims to ensure that one billion Africans are better protected from health emergencies by the end of 2025.